A little more unusually, it also includes museums not often part of these free events, like the Scuderie del Quirinale (currently with a Lorenzo Lotto exhibit); the MAXXI, with its great Michelangelo Pistoletto exhibit; and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, with its show on European 19th- and 20th-century art including pieces by Corot, Monet, Renoir, Ernst, Klee, and Picasso.
All will be open, and free, from 8pm-2am, with last entrance at 1am.
Another bonus? The Palazzo dell Esposizione hosts two piano concerts by Michelangelo Carbonara, one at 9pm and one at 10:30pm, celebrating the same time period that’s also shown with the exhibit.
Happy birthday to the world's most fascinating, historic, and beautiful city (yes, I'm biased): Rome! Tomorrow, April 21, marks the city's 2,764th birthday. (Although by now, who's counting?)
That means, of course, that Rome's going to celebrate in style. Including with free museum openings, shows, and other festivities.
At the top of our list of free, fun ways to celebrate Rome's 2,764th:
All day. Free museums. Rome's municipal museums are free, including great, off-the-beaten-path gems like the MACRO, Montemartini, and Ara Pacis. Here's a complete list of free museums on April 21 (in Italian).
9am. Ceremony with Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno. Rome's mayor lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittorio Emanuele monument, Piazza Venezia. Pomp and circumstance ensues.
11:30am. Concerts at the Campidoglio. Today it might be best known for Michelangelo's architecture, but back in the day, this hill was one of Rome's most sacred. Stop by for some music while the Granatieri of Sardinia look on.
11:30am. Reenactment of Rome's founding. At the Circus Maximus, the Gruppo Storico Romano performs the tale of Rome's 753 B.C. founding. Who will you root for: Romulus or Remus?
3:30pm. Inauguration of the "Bridge of Music." The bridge, in the Flaminio neighborhood near the MAXXI and other cultural gems, gets inaugurated to the sounds of the band of the metropolitan police corps.
4pm. Concert at the Capitoline museums. At 4pm, the Orazio Vecchi choir will give a free concert in the Pietro da Cortona room. Arrive early to get a seat.
6pm. Historical reenactment of Palilia. In front of the Bocca della Verità, the Gruppo Storico Romano will "perform" the pagan Palilia ceremony, a celebration of spring's arrival that Romulus himself was said to have participated in.
9pm. A "spettacolo" of light projections, performances and music. At 9pm at the Forum of Augustus (in the Imperial Forums), there'll be a show called "Roma/Amor, the birth and resurrection of the Eternal City," celebrating Rome from 753 B.C. right up until today.
From now until April 17, Italy’s state-run museums and sites are free. (Yay!) In Rome, that includes the Colosseum, Forum, Palazzo Massimo, Galleria Borghese (where you can find Raphael’s beautiful “Entombment,” above) and Baths of Caracalla… to name a few. Take advantage!
From now until May 30, some of Naples' top museums will be free. The fantastic Archaeological Museum, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be included, but the museum at Capodimonte (remember, the one with all of those famous pieces by artists from Botticelli to Caravaggio) is. That's €7.50 saved. You can buy two whole pizzas with that kind of change.
The Capodimonte, as well as the museum at Castel Sant'Elmo and the Certosa and Museum of San Martino, are free from 8:30am-10am and 4pm-7:30 through May. The museum Duca di Martina is free all day (8:30am-2pm). Click here for information on Naples' free museums from Pierreci.